USB Ext Sound Card Vs. Squeebox

I need your opinion on the following setups. Which system will sound better?

1. Mac Mini with USB Sound Card + DAC
2. Mac Mini with Wifi Squeebox + same DAC

I am playing WAV as the music format.
I assume option 1 is better but option 2 is a cleaner setup for me. Has anyone tried both setups? And is there a noticeable difference?

Of course in the interests of science you could run an Ethernet cable to the SB and see if any of what you are hearing is related to the wireless transmission...

As Onhwy61 points out, this is all about implementation. And at a certain point price...

One other thing to try is a different SPDIF cable to the DAC. SPDIF implementation is second only to transport jitter....
In my system...

MacBook Pro -> USB out -> Hagerman USB adapter -> SPDIF cable -> DAC

sounds far to superior to

MacBook Pro -> wireless -> SB3 -> SPDIF digital out -> DAC.

I don't know why, but it's not close. Would love to try a USB DAC sometime -- could be even better.

I have the same experience. USB is better than Wireless. I assume the wirless or even Ethernet will loose some sound quality. I'll try the Ethernet when I get a chance. Maybe USB has a bigger bandwidth. THanks for sharing.
Guys - no difference between USB and Ethernet in terms of bandwidth - at least not that is relevant to this discussion. Very little data is required for audio - remember USB1.1 works just fine.

Hardwired (ie USB, Ethernet, FireWire etc) is always going to be more reliable then WiFi (wireless). Being nothing more then a small radio, WiFi is subject to interference where wire is not.

Technically a USB DAC that skips SPDIF and works in I2S will trump any USB SPDIF implementation. For instance Gordon Rankin's Wavelength series - Brick, Cosecant and Crimson. Also see the Empirical Audio website for more tech.

In my own rigs I have found that the SPDIF cable makes a big difference in the kind of setup Drubin has. I have been very happy with SBs modded by Bolder running Ethernet, and run them using their own audio out (ie using their internal DAC). Cosecant (and I assume Crimson) are better, as is a USB>adapter implementation with a high end DAC. Have had equally good results with a glass Toslink directly from the Mac to the DAC.

Lots of ways to go.
Seanchau wrote:
"USB is better than Wireless"

This is not a sound conclusion. Certainly not the case. Your experience shows that the particular implementations of wireless servers you auditioned are not as good as the particular USB implementations you auditioned. No broad conclusions can be drawn from this.

I say this because the fundamental physics of networked/wireless servers is actually superior to most USB implementations. Bit-perfect and local master clock. This is superior to most USB implementations. There is one exception that will match the quality possible with networked, namely the Crimson DAC from Wavelength which uses Asynchronous USB protocol.

You just need to listen to the right networked system and you will change your mind.

I just dont want others reading your post and being deterred from buying squeezebox, Sonos or others. They can sound as good or even better than USB with appropriate ancillary hardware.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio